Here are Webbs 10 Top Tips for Buying a Caravan:
There are few things in life that can open up as many wonderful possibilities and adventures as owning your own caravan. Once you’ve made the decision to buy, choosing your new home-from-home should be an exciting process, but all too often the purchase experience is clouded by questions and concerns that can make it feel like a minefield. Luckily, the team at Webbs Salisbury live and breathe caravans, and are experts in helping our customers choose the very best option. Here, we share their top ten tips for buying a caravan.
1. New or Used?
The first thing to decide is whether you want to buy a new or used caravan. There are lots of fantastic deals available on new models, but you can also find second-hand vehicles in mint condition, and these tend to hold their value better. Many factors will influence your decision, including budget, practical requirements and caravanning experience. For example, a first-timer may play it safe with a used caravan, whereas a seasoned professional, who knows exactly what they want and what set-up works best for them, may prefer to buy new.
2. Where to Buy?
Whether you decide to buy a new or used caravan, we strongly recommend purchasing through an accredited, reputable caravan dealer. Although some would argue there are cost savings to be made from buying privately, you’re also more vulnerable to unscrupulous vendors. The law automatically gives pretty comprehensive protection when you buy from a dealer, and you’re also more likely to be offered a warranty. Unfortunately, the same level of protection does not apply when you buy from a private seller.
3. Avoid Auctions
Caravans sold through auctions are often repossessions, poor quality and have little or no history. Watch out too for dealers who purchase through auctions and then sell on to the general public – be clear on where the vehicle has come from.
4. Licence to Tow?
If your driving licence was issued after 1st January 1997, you are restricted to driving a combined maximum weight of 3500kg. Take into account your car’s MGW (Maximum Gross Weight), plus the caravan’s MTPLM (Maximum Technical Permissible Laden Mass, i.e. the most it could weigh with all your food, clothes, gas etc in). Make sure you know your car’s MGW before you start looking, so you don’t waste time looking at caravan models that aren’t legal and safe for you to tow. A reputable dealer will ask what you intend to tow with and check the weight combination for you.
5. Think Beyond Looks
It’s easy to fall in love with the overall design of a caravan, but picturing yourself actually using it can often throw up concerns. Think practically about its layout, is there enough workable space in the kitchen and enough storage. Good sales people will always be happy to let you have a play around inside the caravan, or to demonstrate functionality for you.
6. Fully Equipped?
Once you’re happy with the layout, you can get into the nitty gritty of the on-board equipment. If you’re buying a new caravan, find out what comes as standard, and what extra options are available. With a used caravan, you need to feel comfortable that the existing specification meets your needs. It’s a good idea to make a list of the things your caravan must have, and the things you’d be willing to compromise on. Ask yourself questions like whether you need a microwave, how big the fridge needs to be, and whether a separate shower is important to you. Remember a reputable dealer will have correctly qualified technicians allowing extra items such as an external BBQ point, or external mains point to be added safely.
7. Know the History
Be clear on the previous ownership and history of the caravan you’re considering. You need to know that it hasn’t been stolen or previously written off, and also that it doesn’t have any outstanding finance that you could later become liable for. You can look into these things yourself with a CRiS check, but all reputable dealers will have carried out these checks – and more – to give you total peace of mind.
8. Get Road-Ready
You need to be 100% happy that your caravan is fully roadworthy before it’s handed over to you, as it then becomes your responsibility to ensure the vehicle is safe and legal. As a minimum, you should ensure that all brakes, lights and appliances are working, and ask to see the paperwork for any examinations the caravan has undergone, along with its service history.
9. Protect Yourself
If you’re buying from a dealer, they should offer a warranty; if they’re not prepared to do this, alarm bells should start ringing! It could indicate a problem with the caravan that will prove costly for you further down the line. Make sure you check the duration and small print of any warranty provided. If they only offer a 3 month warranty ask yourself why?
10. Don’t Forget Storage!
Most caravans spend as much time off the road as on it, so it’s crucial to think about where you will store your caravan when you’re not touring. Consider whether you have space at home to park it, or if you’ll need to factor in the rental cost of storage. If you have the space, why not use your caravan as an extension of your home? Many of our customers use theirs as offices or accommodation for visitors. It’s a great way to maximise your investment!